Eating mindfully is not something we learn as a child. As a matter of fact, we are often taught the exact opposite. As children, how many of you were told by your parents “Clean your plate!”? This idea can actually lead to a lifetime of overeating, as many of us feel guilty leaving food on our plate, especially when there are “starving children” in the world. But the concept of mindful eating can lead to healthy habits and lead to less waste.
So what is mindful eating? Simply put, it is eating with awareness. Your focus is on your food, your body, and your body’s response to the food you eat. We put forth time and effort when we review bills and bank statements or when we plan a meeting, but when it comes to eating, we do so absent-mindedly. Even when we are in the act of eating, our minds drift or we are in the midst of conversations with others, that we don’t focus on how much food we put in our mouth, the texture of the food or the taste.
So how can mindful eating help with weight loss? Many of us struggle with food. We react mindlessly to it. We eat when we are not hungry. We continue to eat even though we have eaten enough already. And often, we do not use food for its intended purpose – to nourish our bodies. With that being said, if we started asking ourselves, “Is this food I am about to eat nourishing to my body?” our response to food would likely be much different. If you answer truthfully, you may find yourself choosing a healthier option altogether.
Another great question to ask yourself before eating is, “Am I hungry?” We find ourselves eating whenever it is convenient or whenever food is present, regardless of whether we are hungry. And when you ask yourself that question, you open the door to other mindful questions which, when answered truthfully, can impact your eating habits and food choices tremendously.
The great thing about mindful eating is it is a way of life – a lifestyle. It is not a diet. It is just you treating your body, and the food you allow to enter your body, with respect. It increases your awareness and attitude toward food without judgement. It allows you to think, and not react, to food.
Moving forward, consider the following choices in planning your meal: the type of food you eat or drink; where you eat; when you eat; how often you eat; the amount of food you eat; the size of the bite you chew; how fast or slowly you chew; how thoroughly you chew; when you swallow; how much time you take between bites; and when you stop eating . The list can go on and on – go ahead and add some of your own thoughts or questions. And let’s begin the practice of mindful eating today.
For more information or questions about weight loss services offered at Emory Healthcare, call 404-778-7777 or visit http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/emorybariatrics/.
Fletcher, Megrette, MEd, RD, CDE; Frederick Burggraf, MEd; Discover Mindful Eating, 2010